A/N: I'm alive! XD I'm so sorry for taking this long in updating, but school has been really eating most of my time T^T I'm trying my best to finish my other chapters, but I'm struggling to finish lots of essays first T^T It's incredible how 10 pages of fanfiction are written in less than an hour and then I take 3 days to finish a SINGLE page of an essay T~T Anyways, please enjoy this chapter too! 3
Disclaimer: Tear-chan owns nothing of Mujin Wakusei Survive, she only owns her OCs and the small plot twists she decides to give~!
°°TT°°TT°°Chapter 3: The Real Wind, The Real Sea°°TT°°TT°°
The tense atmosphere had turned the air around us so heavy I knew I could have cut through it had I found a knife to try it out. I didn't know if all of my friends were aware that our imminent death was creeping closer with each second that passed, each time we moved closer to the planet towering in front of our space shuttle. They needed to know, as much as it could cost me to tell them. If they know the real magnitude of what we were facing right now, there can be the possibility we can think of a way to avoid the situation.
"You cannot solve a problem that is unknown to you, Kimiko, you must identify it first and the answers will follow soon after," my mother used to say.
I knew everyone was wondering what was going to happen next, and I would give anything to change the answer I was going to give them. Taking a deep breath to calm myself, the words finally slipped off my lips.
"At this rate, we'll be destroyed by the atmosphere," I told them sadly.
Not wanting to see their shocked faces, I turned away and walked over to stare out of a window just like Howard was doing.
"The shuttle's going to burn down!" Shingo asked me alarmed, rushing to my side and pulling on my purple jacket's sleeve to make me look down at him.
"What!" Howard shouted, training his gaze to me.
"We're going to die!" Sharla suddenly understood.
Everyone turned to stare at her in surprise, the words having a greater effect on them once they were said directly. To be honest, the last one I thought would say it aloud was my most innocent friend.
"Stop kidding me! You think I can die in a place like this!" Howard once again let panic take control of him, moving his eyes crazily as he inspected each one of us.
"Calm down!" Menori roared at him, knowing just how anxious he was making everyone feel. "Isn't there anything we can do?"
She turned to Shingo and me, seeing as we were the only ones who knew more or less what was happening with the shuttle.
"We should be able to fly it manually, but without knowing the angle or approach…" Shingo's voice faded off after he turned around to stare at the board intently, leaving my friends' confused expressions to me.
"Every planet's atmosphere is different, the angle the ship has to be in and the approach direction you must take varies depending on the place you're currently flying by and the shape and speed the ship can reach," I explained to everyone, using one of the many things I learned from my dad.
"But, the computer…" Luna reminded us, indirectly saying we had no way of knowing the correct way to land this shuttle. Suddenly, her eyes widened as she thought of something, and she quickly whipped around. "Chako!"
"You finally remembered I'm here," the short cat told her amused.
We all turned to the pilot's seat, where Koinu and Chako were comfortably sitting, amusing themselves by watching our scared antics. Jumping out of the seat excitedly, Chako examined the whole board carefully while Koinu, never having been good with electronics, simply stood up by my side loyally, watching intently everything the small cat did.
Pulling out a bunch of cables and switches, Chako finally spoke. "Gauges're all busted, huh? Ah well, it will work out somehow."
Raising her paw, a long thin device suddenly came out from it, the sharp parts appearing by its sides revealing it to be some kind of key. Chako pressed a button on the board in front of her, opening a small compartment made out of glass. It was the place where the pilot would insert the key to power the whole ship up, just like everyone else did with normal cars.
We all gasped in amazement when three buttons flickered after Chako inserted her special key, which appeared to have molded well with the entrance. From then, the whole computer suddenly turned on, the symbols and buttons which had not been damaged shining with the same colored lights.
"Guidance calculations okay. Entry angle calculated. Autopilot is impossible after all," Chako read the report, apparently connecting with the main computer. "Luna, take the helm."
Slightly surprised, my red-headed friend nodded and sat on the pilot's seat, grabbing the lever which controlled the whole escape shuttle.
"Wait! How do we know you-!" Howard started to object, but Menori held her arm firm in front of him, cutting him rudely.
"Luna, do you have experience?" Our leader asked, scrutinizing Luna in search for anything that indicated she was lying.
"It's my first atmospheric entry, but I have piloted an escape capsule before," she told us honestly, determination burning in her dark blue orbs as she watched us.
"Hold on a moment!" Koinu suddenly spoke by my side, raising his left paw to catch our attention. "If that's the case, then Kimiko should be the one doing it."
"WHAT!" Almost about everyone, including me, asked in shock.
"Luna is just as capable of doing this job, so let her do it!" Chako quickly defended her master, walking over to my pet-robot and pressing her forehead roughly against his in aggression.
"Kimiko has flown escape capsules too and has had more training as well! What makes you think Luna should be the one doing it!" Koinu yelled back, baring his fangs as he glared at the pink cat.
"O-Oi, stop it," I said, feeling extremely embarrassed of the prideful fight taking place at the moment.
"Is fighting everything you two can do?" Luna tried to reason with them as she sweat dropped, shifting her position so that she could stand quickly to separate both pets if necessary.
Ever since they met, Koinu and Chako had always found a way to begin fights comparing both Luna and me. Of course, neither of them liked to hear that their owner was worse than the other's and they always defended us no matter what. Luna and I had learned not to pay attention to them and their silly fights, though we were grateful our best friends thought so high of us and always tried to put us first. Even so, Koinu never had anything against Luna, and Chako was always very kind to me.
"Well, Luna is an incredible fast learner, and with my help she will be flying this in no time! Besides, what kind of training did Kimiko had about all this!" Chako kept on going without listening to us, the last sentence finally making Koinu snap.
"Her father was the Captain of his own ship! He taught her everything he knew!" Koinu barked, his fur standing up as he shook in anger, not standing that someone doubted the skills of his former owner.
"Koinu!" I scolded him in alarm, feeling as if someone had thrown a clean punch to my stomach at the mention of my father.
"Kimiko, is that true?" Menori asked me seriously.
Turning back to my teammates, I realized that they were all staring at me intently, not actually knowing what to think after listening to the small robots' fight. I closed my hands into fists and looked down to my shoes as I thought what to answer, not wanting to give them false hopes. I only wished that either the wall or the floor would swallow me whole now.
"I've never done anything like this," I finally whispered, not daring to look at anyone in the eye.
"And neither has Luna," Koinu reminded me, motioning with his paw towards my friend.
Finally lifting my gaze, I locked eyes with Luna in search for a clue as to what to do next. She was looking at me deep in thought, almost as if trying to understand what I was so shaken up about.
It was not long before she smiled brightly, standing out of her seat without taking her eyes off of me. "I think Kimiko should be the one doing it."
"Eh!" Chako's jaw touched the floor comically as she turned to look at her owner. "After all I did for you!"
"It's clear Kimiko knows better than me what has to be done and how the computer works. At least she would know what she's doing," Luna explained sheepishly, receiving a firm nod from my puppy.
"Can you do it?" Menori turned to ask me again, piercing me with her big purple eyes.
"I…" I mumbled as I looked at all my friends, looking for some way out of it.
It's true I knew the procedure of what to do when someone entered the atmosphere, but I preferred if Chako helped Luna doing it. What I feared the most was that my body would not resist the tension, giving up into another coughing fit and making me lose control. I was not in the right conditions for piloting a shuttle, and I couldn't risk my friends' lives just for my own pride.
"Don't worry, you'll be fine," Koinu reassured me tenderly with a smile, almost as if reading my mind.
"But…" I whispered again, the fight going on in my mind preventing me to form concrete sentences as I trained my gaze to everyone standing in front of me.
My father used to say that death was one of the things space could bring, just the way it could bring life. Nature was made out of pure balances, and we had to respect them no matter how painful it was.
But looking now at my friends, I realized just how painful balance could be. None of my parents believed in destiny, they always told me to fight for my dreams no matter what, dreams that were broken the moment I was left alone. They said I didn't have to give up in life, that I should always be happy…
"Promise me you'll live! Promise me you'll survive!"
My eyes widened once I remembered what my father told me right before the end. I promised him I was going to fight for my life! And I wasn't alone anymore; I had to do everything on my reach to save my friends as well. I would never forgive myself if anything happened to them when I could have done anything to help them fight for their lives too.
"Chako!" I called my friend's pet, startling everyone. "I'll need your help with the exact measures!" I told her with a determined expression now present on my face, my eyes sparkling with the fire which had once sparkled in Luna's.
"Kimiko!" Luna called me happily, rushing towards me to squeeze me in a hug.
"I don't like this!" Howard protested, stomping his foot in anger.
"We have no choice but to let her try," Kaoru suddenly said, making everyone turn towards the wall he was leaning on and stare at him in shock.
"I think so too!" Shingo stepped forward, supporting me without a doubt.
"Me too!" Bell and Sharla were quick to voice their opinions too.
"Bell, damn you!" Howard turned and yelled at the tall brunette, making him to cower in shame.
"Guys…" I started softly, looking at everyone. "I promise not to let you down!" I nodded at them confidently, feeling powered up by their trust.
"Okay, we'll leave it to Kimiko," Menori nodded. "Everyone else, take your seats!"
Everyone immediately did what they were told, and soon they were all sitting with their belts buckled, hoping for the worst never to happen. Looking down at the small joystick I was holding, I tried to familiarize myself with everything until eventually finding everything I needed for the folly I was about to do.
"You ready?" Chako asked me gently, the fact that she was not angry with me not surprising me at all. Her fight had been with Koinu after all.
"Yeah, let's do this," I told her with a deep sigh, tightening my grip on the lever.
"First off, you hafta point the ship straight."
Looking down again, I found two triangular buttons on each lower corner of the lever, identifying the left one as the one which held the propulsion switches. Pressing it gently, a small pad slid from the side, displaying a set of six buttons, each one controlling one of the propellants.
"Help me here, Chako. First is roll," I informed her, moving my finger towards the bottom left switch.
"Aye. Push that button for two seconds," she told me adeptly, watching me while I did as she said. "Stop."
"Next is top left," I informed her again, moving my finger towards that button.
"Two seconds," she told me again. "Stop."
"Lifting the nose," I announced, patiently waiting for her to read the information out of the computer.
"Top for three and a half seconds," she finally translated the information to me. "Sixteen above level. We're entering nose first," she reported.
"Understood. Closing the heat-resistant shutters," I informed with short sentences and a loud secure voice, just as my father did when he was in his ship.
Quickly checking the keyboard, I found what I was looking for and pulled down a lever to my right. Without a second to waste, thick metallic shields deployed on the windows, specially made for protecting the travelers from the friction heat created when entering the atmosphere of a planet. Still, I knew it was not enough to survive the collision.
"Activating cooling system!" I dictated again, pressing a set of four buttons above me.
"Cooling system, activated!" Chako informed our friends, and sure enough a light breeze greeted everyone's face.
Our escape shuttle entered the odd planet's atmosphere in those moments. The white light which had once illuminated the whole place turned red, warning everyone of what was happening. My hands tightened their grip on the joystick nervously as I gulped loudly, trying my best to keep my mind in what I was doing instead of falling into my memories again.
"Entering atmosphere," Chako informed the obvious out of pure protocol. "Outer wall temperature rising," she told me, looking at me expectantly.
"Hai. Cooling system at maximum!" I nodded at her, sliding a small lever to the right in the last panel where I had turned the cooling system on.
"That's it," Chako mumbled sadly, wishing there was something else we could do instead of leaving it to the hands of fate.
The shuttle once again shook violently making small screams and grunts come out from the back part, where my friends were sitting. Gritting my teeth, I narrowed my eyes in frustration, hoping with all my heart for everything to come out alright. The red lights on both cabins were a cruel reminder of the inferno currently licking at our shuttle's shields, trying its best to reach us and take us down with it. The pressure created by the speed we were going to was pressing us against our seats, our heads pounding painfully, and it soon became difficult to move around.
Eventually, the red lights turned off, quickly being replaced by the white ones once more. The trembling subsided as well as the atmosphere's pressure, and the temperature seemed to start decreasing as well. I felt a horrible emptiness in my stomach once the planet's gravity reached us, pulling down our shuttle for just a moment.
"Airspeed good. Altitude 25,000," Chako read the stats, the good news making me release a puff of air and slouch back into my seat. "We made it through!" She informed the ones in the back, being greeted with relieved exclamations.
"Opening front shutter," I called as I moved the lever situated to my right again, the silver shields moving upwards to let us see where we were heading.
"We can do this," Chako assured me.
I nodded and pushed the joystick forward, making the nose of the shuttle to lower in order to set it back straight. Suddenly, a blue light illuminated our view, and a loud cracking noise threatened to leave us deaf. A chill ran down our spines as we covered our ears and closed our eyes, afraid of this new phenomenon.
"What is this?" I asked Chako alarmed, trying my best to keep my eyes open instead of closing them out of pure reflex each time a new sound exploded.
"It's lightning. It's my first time seein' the real thing too," Chako confessed, looking far from scared of this new 'lightning'.
Small water drops started to smash against the glass, making it even harder for me to see a thing.
"After the lightning comes the rain. We must be underneath the clouds now," Chako told me silently, watching the dark scenery outside our shuttle.
Another thunderous sound was then heard and, not even a second later, the ship started plummeting downwards. The lights started turning on and off as a loud buzzing sound made its role as an alarm, making my heart jolt in fear.
"We've been hit!" I exclaimed, my mind rushing to remember something of use from what my father had taught me.
Reaching out, I turned on a few switches to increase the power of the propellants, incredibly reducing our falling speed. This giving me a few more time, I searched the outside for a place where we could land. However, everything being illuminated by lightning was water.
"It seems like we're flying just over the ocean," Chako collaborated, telling me she was thinking the same thing I was.
"Alright, we'll land on the water," I decided, making the small robot to turn and look at me with a surprised face.
"You know how to!"
"I've never really tried on my own, but I remember the theory," I admitted, frowning as I saw the ocean drawing nearer.
"Fine, I'll help you anyway I can," she nodded at me, facing forwards again. "The propellants should help us have an easy stop. Okay, raise the nose!"
"Understood. I'll give my best," I confirmed her, pulling the joystick towards me to do as she said.
A gasp of shock left my lips though, once I discovered that the ocean had been closer than we thought. The shuttle crashed against the water and bounced back up because of its momentum. The screams of my friends reached my ears and I tried my best to level the shuttle, but the continuous waves and strong wind was making me lose control over the ship.
"Look out!" Chako cried out to me, pointing towards some pointy rocks sticking out of the water.
"Gah!" I moved the lever to the sides wildly, achieving to dodge most of the lethal rocks.
However, the turbulence of my sharp turns had scared my teammates, who were screaming nonstop again. I was desperately thinking of any solutions to stop the shuttle, which was only sliding and bouncing on top of the waves instead of stopping. Something clicked on my mind the moment a lightening bolt illuminated a big set of rocks close to each other, a crazy idea soon forming on my mind.
"Wait, what are you doing? We are going to crash!" An agitated Chako tried to stop me, staring unbelievingly when I turned off the propellants and made the shuttle go towards the rocks.
"No, we're not," I promised as we glided closer, preparing myself in case I needed to do any harsh movements with the joystick.
Just as I had hoped, a fallen rock had the use of an airstrip, reducing our speed until almost stopping. What I had not seen though was that a smaller rock was creating some kind of level in our improvised landing strip, ruining our trajectory. The nose of the shuttle bounced up once it came into contact with the uneven part of the rock, landing on some bigger rocks which finally stopped our shuttle. The sharp movement sent us all against our seats' back, our head hitting painfully against the hard metal underneath the fabric.
"It's a new disease no one has ever heard of before."
"Mommy, you're going to get better, you'll see."
"Kimiko, I'm very proud of being your mother."
"We're sorry. She passed away while sleeping."
"Koinu will always be by your side, taking care of you."
"But I don't want to live without you. Please don't leave me."
"No! Promise me you'll live! Promise me you'll survive!"
A weak groan escaped my lips after I started to regain consciousness, my limbs feeling as heavy as if they were made out of lead. I frowned and moved my eyes underneath their eyelids, a bright light entering through them.
What had happened? Where am I? Am I dead? What about the others? Did everyone die? Did I fail?
That sound…Was that water?
Being guided by instinct, I twitched my fingers, feeling glad once I discovered I could still move them. My toes moved too, my neck…
My blue eyes jolted open, catching sight of the heat-resistant shutters on the glass in the cockpit and the apparently broken board. I groaned once more and lifted my hand to the back of my head, feeling it incredibly sore. Had I been knocked out?
"I'm glad to see you're awake!" A familiar voice spoke quietly from my side.
Slowly turning my aching head to my right, I found Koinu and Chako resting peacefully on the seat beside mine, staring at me happily.
"Koinu?" I asked him in a daze, still not registering completely what was happening.
"It sure was a rough landing, ne?" Chako asked me with a smile, doing the peace sign with her paws.
"Rough landing?" I repeated, blinking in confusion. Realization soon dawned on me though. "Ah! How's everyone!" I gasped, turning around quickly to take a look to the cabin where my friends were sitting, ignoring the stinging pain.
"Safe. Nobody seems to be hurt," Koinu calmed me down, smiling at my concern.
Ignoring my aching body, I stepped firmly and pushed myself up, holding onto my seat to keep my balance. Walking out of the cockpit, I silently watched my friends, who were currently sleeping soundlessly. Or had they fainted like me?
Shaking that thought away, I walked over to the middle of the hallway, being able to see them all. "Everyone, wake up!"
A small groan to my left informed me that Luna was waking up, and Bell was blinking in confusion behind her as well. Smiling in relief, I turned to my right to check on the others just to be greeted by a shuffling Howard. Shaking my head, I caught sight of Kaoru twitching in his seat and, taking a closer look, I was able to see his eyes moving underneath his eyelids as if he was having a nightmare.
"Kaoru! Kaoru!" I called him gently, shaking his shoulder to wake him up. I smiled at him and stood up-straight again once he opened his eyes, going over to Shingo and Menori to shake them awake as well.
"Kimiko, what happened to us?" Sharla asked me sleepily from the front, standing up and rubbing her eyes under her glasses.
"It looks like we survived somehow," I answered with a smile, pointing towards the window in the cockpit, where a bright light was entering from the half-closed shutters.
Hearing this, the rest of my friends stood up as well, heading towards the cockpit to try and see something outside the windows. The scenery outside was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, our space colony having to do absolutely nothing compared to this. The sky was a wonderful mix of blues and greens with white puffy clouds relaxing with the wind. Below it, the immense ocean was sparkling with the morning sun, displaying a darker shade of the same colors as the sky.
"The sea!" Sharla exclaimed in awe, leaning closer to the window beside me.
"The clouds are moving…" Luna noticed, gaping at the view we were all enjoying at the moment.
"It's the sun," Shingo pointed out, motioning to a huge yellow orb rising in front of us.
"I wonder where this is," Luna whispered over to Sharla as I moved to the back to give Menori and Bell a chance to see.
"The sun is the real thing, right?" Shingo asked out loud, not actually expecting to receive an answer.
"It's obviously a man-made sun," Howard stated, refusing to believe anything else.
"Luna, this doesn't seem like the inside of a colony," Sharla commented, gaining the attention of my pet-robot, who had been standing beside me by the arch.
"That's right! Those clouds and sea right in front of us are not man-made. That's really the sun!" Koinu informed us proudly, gaining a nod in agreement from Chako.
"It's the first time I've felt this," Luna stated, turning back to the window after Koinu's explanation. "It's warm and soft and gives me a happy feeling."
"That's true," Bell smiled as he peeked through the shutters.
"If you're saying that's the real sun, then this is Earth after all?" Howard asked us, never taking his eyes off of the real nature in front of him.
"I ain't sure about that, but the atmosphere's composition seems to be like Earth's," Chako nodded, staring at our friends' shocked stares.
"Come to think of it, we've been breathing this last while, but…" Sharla suddenly realized, bringing her hand up to her mouth in concern.
"The shuttle's systems are supplying us with Oxygen, right?" Howard asked coolly, wanting to give the impression that he knew what was currently happening.
"All those are totally busted," I mumbled shyly, sweat dropping once I realized I had forgotten all about them.
"EH!" Everyone yelled at me as their faces drained from all color, making me to laugh sheepishly to hide my nervousness.
"What are you gettin' all surprised about now? We've been breathin' this planet's atmosphere for a while," Chako raised an eyebrow at them, not understanding their reaction at all.
"Look here," Koinu sighed, walking over to the back part of the escape shuttle and standing beside an indifferent Kaoru. "The outside air is getting in through here."
The black and white dog pointed over to a small dent formed on the door to the shuttle, motioning for us to come nearer. Sure enough, a bright ray of light was entering through the crack, illuminating that part of the ship.
"Is the air's composition okay?" Luna turned to ask Chako, who had walked over with the rest of them.
"It doesn't have anythin' toxic, but the amount of Carbon Dioxide is five times normal," Chako sent her a toothy grin, widening it after hearing our surprised gasps.
"Don't worry. That's well within your tolerance. The seawater is okay, too," Koinu eased them, sending a small glare over to Chako for scaring us like that.
"Yeesh! What's going on here, anyway?" Howard humped, glaring to the side.
"Can we send out the rescue beacon?" Sharla asked no one in particular, hoping that either the robots, Shingo or I would answer.
"Can't. The shuttle's systems are all totally busted," Chako informed sadly.
"Then there's nothing we can do?" Luna asked her friend hopefully, resting her hands on Sharla's shoulders comfortingly.
"They should have noticed on the ship that our escape shuttle was cut loose, right?" Shingo asked me loud enough for everyone to hear.
"That's right," Menori answered even before I could open my mouth. "They'll have realized we're gone by now and will start looking for us."
"Then we're supposed to hang out here like this until help comes?" Howard asked her skeptically, crossing his arms and staring coldly at our leader.
"Anyways, let's open the hatch and see how things look outside," I stepped in-between them with a smile, trying to cheer up the mood.
"Agreed!" Shingo, Luna and Sharla laughed, raising their hands as if we were in school.
"Let's see…" Luna mused, climbing up the small set of stairs of the shuttle and fumbling with the lock of the hatch.
Turning the lock to the right, the door snapped open, allowing Luna to push it forwards. Climbing up a few steps more, she poked her head out and stayed there for some moments with Chako.
"The wind feels nice!" We all heard her laugh from where we were.
"It seems like a real world," Chako agreed, only making us more curious.
"A real sun, the real sea, real clouds, and the real wind!" Our friend chanted happily, almost as if inviting us to delight ourselves with this new world.
"I'm gonna look too!" Howard said annoyed, climbing up the stairs and poking his head out like the girls.
"Let me see! Let me see!" Sharla begged, doing just the same as Howard.
"I wanna see too!" Shingo somehow managed to squirm between all of them.
"Beautiful!" Bell, Menori, Kaoru, Koinu and I then heard Sharla exclaim.
"They certainly look real," Shingo declared.
"Don't they!" Luna asked them excitedly, jumping slightly in place.
Finally not being able to refrain herself any longer, Menori stepped forward and stared at all the pairs of feet angrily. "Somebody move and let me see too!"
"Is the real sea like a giant puddle?" Shingo bent down to ask me, sending me a toothy grin because of the idea.
"Y-Yeah…" I smiled sheepishly as a sweat drop formed on the back of my head. "Like a big and deep puddle."
By my side, Kaoru snorted in disagreement and turned his face to the side in an attempt to hide a smirk, amused at how I had accepted Shingo's comparison. I blinked at him surprised, but before I could even speak, Sharla's voice caught our attention again.
"It's land!" Luna concluded, finally climbing out of the shuttle, giving us space to go out as well.
I climbed up the steps eagerly after Menori, being followed by Bell and Kaoru. The moment our heads popped out, a cool gentle breeze blew our hair out of our faces, receiving us with the strong smell of salt. The scenery was even more beautiful in real life, and it expanded all around us. The ocean waves were producing a very soft sound, the breeze being too light to pick up the water and slam it against the rocks, and my cold hands and legs even started to warm up thanks to the bright sun burning on top of our heads.
"It is land!" Sharla laughed, snapping me out of my reverie.
Feeling that the boys had already stepped out of the hatch, I sat on the corner and wheeled my body in the direction that my friends were staring at. To my surprise, I was met with the view of a few mountains towering over long pieces of green, which were probably either a forest or a jungle, a few miles away from where we were.
"It's land! It's land!" Shingo cried happily, suddenly appearing behind my back and throwing his arms around my neck.
"There's foliage," Luna pointed out excitedly.
"Maybe there are animals too!" I collaborated, already feeling my hopes rising. "Right?" I smiled at Shingo over my shoulder, seeing as he was still hanging from my back without letting me stand up.
"Can we swim there?" Howard asked impatiently, already wanting to get away from our escape shuttle in the middle of the ocean.
"It's dangerous, and furthermore, far," Menori rejected the idea, shaking her head seriously.
"I've certainly never swum in a real sea," Sharla commented worriedly, kneeling down and peeking at the sea dancing below the shuttle.
"Oh yeah!" Shingo suddenly sprang up the moment he remembered something. "Maybe there's some equipment in the shuttle!"
"Then let's look around for it!" Luna proposed happily, turning around to face us with her arms spread apart.
Sharla, Shingo and I smiled at her in agreement, hurrying to be the first ones to enter the shuttle once more. The rest of our team followed more calmly behind us, being more collected than our childish selves. We all went our own way as we searched through every crack and door we could find, hoping to find something of use.
I admit it was still uncomfortable for me to be inside of an escape shuttle again, but the urge to help everyone was pushing all those thoughts out of my mind. I kept on reminding myself that I was not alone this time, and that fact alone gave me more hope than I needed.
"Here!" Shingo suddenly called us. "There's a boat!"
I perked my head up and, sure enough, I found the youngest team member standing at the far back of the shuttle, right besides a black and yellow box and a pair of oars.
"There's a laser gun, too!" Howard now exclaimed, pulling a silver gun out of a drawer.
"And a knife and a mini-light!" Luna waved at us, pointing at the things she was holding.
"There's a sewing set…" Menori informed us, opening a slender pink box. "There's more….Mineral water and emergency rations!"
"And I found a first aid kit," Koinu announced proudly, holding the white box with the red logo above his head.
"It's better than I expected," I admitted with a smile, walking over to them and helping them place all the food on the small walkway crossing through the shuttle.
"You call this better?" Howard sneered at me, staring in disparagement at the food we had found.
"It's way better than nothing," I glared at him, not being able to believe he didn't understand the critical situation we were in.
"Let's distribute them among us. One for each person," Menori stopped our small fight, effectively gaining our attention. "We don't know when we'll be able to refill them. Everyone manage their own eating and drinking."
We all nodded in agreement and stepped forward to grab our share, noticing there were still a few more packages of food and bottles of water left.
"We'll save the rest for later," Menori ordered severely, almost as if reading our minds.
"Don't talk so miserly," Howard frowned at her. "There's sure to be something when we reach shore," he said, opening his water bottle and taking a big swig from it.
"We don't know that for certain," Luna told him tiredly, only making the prideful blond choke on his drink.
"Shut up!" He screamed rudely at her face. "I certainly know it!"
"What will you do if we find a dangerous animal?" Menori countered him, siding up with Luna.
"When it happens, I'll use this," he smugly told us, lifting the laser gun he had found earlier before in order to show it to us.
"You can use it?" The bluenette gasped worriedly, widening her eyes at the sight of the dangerous weapon.
"Papa took me hunting lots of times," Howard boasted, taking another swig of his water.
"By huntin', you mean shooting at special animal robots, right?" Chako frowned up at him, not liking how robots were treated in those kinds of sports.
"If you ask me, that's a dangerous hobby," Koinu nodded proudly, turning his back to Howard in dignity.
"It's something nobles have a taste for," Howard merely shrugged him off with a smug smirk on his face.
"After all, it's just a game," Kaoru concluded, taking my best friend's side in order to shut Howard up.
"What!" Howard yelled angrily, flailing his arms around.
"Stop it!" I glared at him, coughing a bit to stop my throat from itching. "Remember you're holding something dangerous!"
"I'll show you my skills sometime soon," he just bragged, sending me a know-it-all face as he aimed the gun at some random spot.
After a few more minutes, Luna and Menori were able to stop the fight Howard and I had started, reminding us about our problem at hand. After being scolded lightly by Koinu for forgetting to take my meds, I took a bit from my water to swallow them up. Thanks to that, I could feel the burning pain in my lungs and throat start to diminish, giving me time to spend another day without constant coughing fits.
Right now, we were all currently standing outside the shuttle, getting the rowing boat ready to be used. Well, at least my friends were doing so. Menori had told me to stay put on the sidelines to prevent more fights, telling me I should be smarter than Howard. Yet, he was going to have all the fun.
"Are you really going alone?" Luna turned to ask the blond boy while she helped Menori put the oars together.
"Yeah, just me will me plenty," Howard sent a confident smile over to my redheaded friend, looking up from strapping the gun and knife holder on his waist and legs.
"I'll go with you," Menori declared, obviously not trusting such a task to Howard,
"I don't need you," he replied childishly as he admired his finished work.
"It'll be faster with two," our leader tried to reason with him. "And you plan to row by yourself?" She finally hit the winning spot, motioning over to the large extensions of water in-between the land and us.
"Do what you want," Howard finally gave in with a frown, sliding down over to the wing where Shingo and Bell were preparing the boat.
"This is so unfair," I whined to Koinu from over the other wing of the shuttle. "He's the one who started it all."
"And you were the one who followed his lead," my pet-robot scolded me, standing by my side as he enjoyed the sun.
"It's still unfair that I was the only one punished," I pouted, crossing my arms over my chest childishly.
"I bet Menori did it with a good intention," Sharla tried to comfort me kindly, climbing up the same wing I was leaning on, seeing as the shuttle was a bit lopsided because of the rocks it was resting on.
"Still…" I whined again, looking up at her seeing as she now almost reached the edge.
"Don't take it personal, would ya'?" Chako rolled her pink eyes at me. "Ya' ain't the only one doin' nothin'," she told me as she slid all the way from where she was standing with Sharla over to where Koinu and I were standing at, using the wing as a huge slide.
"That's right," Sharla smiled at me. "Chako and I are here with you, and so is Koinu! And by what I can see, Howard and Kaoru are doing nothing too!" She played the role of lookout, shading her eyes from the sun with her hand.
"Sharla, get down here before you hurt yourself," Koinu called our shy friend with a tired sigh.
"H-Hai! Sorry!" She gasped, sitting down on the wing and using it like a slide as Chako had previously done.
"Let's go to see how Shingo and Bell are doin'," Chako suddenly proposed, running over to the other wing of the shuttle.
"Ah, wait for us Chako!" Sharla called over to the pink cat, slightly sprinting after her.
I heaved a sad sigh before following slowly after my friends, stopping in my tracks for a moment to brush my gaze over the ocean and land. Apart from any random comment or explanation from my friends, it was pretty quiet. The tide was too low to crash against our shuttle, and there were no birds neither flying nor singing about either.
"What are you just standing there for?" Koinu turned to ask me, catching me in my absent minded state.
"It's nothing…I just…found it weird that there was this much silence," I confessed, turning to look all around me.
"So you think so too?" A deep voice spoke from behind me, making me jump in surprise.
"K-Kaoru!" I turned to him, noticing he was staring out to the ocean as I had just done.
"You two are worrying over nothing," Koinu told us nonchalantly. "You're just used to the city's busy and noise atmosphere."
"Still, shouldn't there be any kind of animals?" I fidgeted shyly with my fingers. "How about seagulls or any other birds?"
"Idiot!" Koinu huffed at me, making me flinch a bit. "There are no seagulls this far into the ocean."
"How was I supposed to know?" I pouted over at him, blushing at the though of Kaoru listening to our conversation.
"By paying attention in class of course," my little dog countered, crossing his arms and turning away from me.
"That was so made up," I mumbled as I did an anime fall, while Kaoru merely paid any attention to us.
"Alright!" Howard's voice broke into our conversation, catching my attention.
"Seems like they are already starting…Let's go watch!" Koinu told me excitedly, guiding me over to where all our teammates were gathered.
"You are a bit bipolar today," I mumbled as my eyebrow ticked in annoyance, receiving no comment whatsoever of Kaoru, who was following close behind me.
I reached Shingo's side just in time to see Howard's lame attempt of climbing into the rowboat and still managing to blame Bell for it, for impossible as it sounds. I sweat dropped as I heard the blond boy bickering by himself, finally sitting down at the bow of the boat.
"Will he really be okay?" Shingo whispered over to me, watching with a raised eyebrow at Howard's antics.
"Let's just hope Menori can do miracles," I giggled, watching as our leader stepped gracefully into the boat behind Howard.
"Luna, I'm leaving the rest to you," we heard Menori tell Luna as she gave her the oars.
"Be careful," Luna nodded in determination, assuming the responsibility of taking care of everyone staying behind.
"Don't worry," I smiled at both girls, walking over to Luna's side. "I'll help Luna in everything I can!"
Luna smiled gratefully at me but Menori whipped her head in my direction with a cold stare being held in her eyes, apparently angry because I had disobeyed her previous order of being invisible.
"She's…still mad at me…" I sulked in a corner, being surrounded by my sweat dropping friends as they tried to comfort me.
"Okay, let go," Howard ordered Bell, who was still keeping the boat in place.
The tall brunette grunted as he pushed the boat into the water currents, backing up to Luna's side as they watched the pair getting smaller with the distance.
"Luna." Chako called her friend from my side. "We're depending on you."
"Huh?" Luna turned to her with a confused look, bending down a bit to be able to stare at her cat better.
"While Menori ain't here, everyone's countin' on you to protect us," the pink kitty reminded her gently. "Keep your head clear."
"Maybe you can start with this problematic girl," Koinu sweat dropped as he motioned to my still sulking self.
"My, my," Luna giggled, walking over to my side. "You know Menori was just stressed Kimiko-chan."
"Still…!" I hiccupped, crying anime style at the memory of our leader's icy stare.
"We can't do anything if we just stay here and mop," Shingo smiled at me, patting my shoulder kindly.
"I know! Let's cheer them on!" Luna smiled excitedly, running back with Shingo and Sharla over to where Bell was standing.
I sighed sadly one last time as I watched my friends cheering excitedly by the edge of the wing, a pout adorning my face once I caught sight of the boat rowing farther every second. A loud sound from behind me suddenly caught my attention and the I discovered that Kaoru had jumped over to the roof of the shuttle, where he was squinting his eyes and covering them from the sunrays with his hand.
"Kaoru?" I mumbled in wonder, slowly standing up and climbing over to where he was standing. "What is it?"
He turned to me surprised for a second, apparently not noticing I had climbed up with him as well. He shifted his brown orbs back to the ocean as he scanned it in search for something, and I presume he found it.
"Look!" He told me as his eyes widened for a second, pointing at a large and thin shadow snaking its way underneath the water.
"What's that?" I exclaimed alarmed, narrowing my eyes in an attempt to see clearer and determine what the shadow really was.
"What happened?" Luna and Bell came rushing to our side, worrying at our serious expressions.
"Let's call them back!" I warned her worriedly, pointing over at the shadow to make them see the danger.
"What is it, what is it?" Chako urged us, climbing up to the roof of the shuttle alongside the rest of our friends. "What can you see?"
"Big trouble! There's a weird animal!" Luna told them, showing them where the moving shadow was.
"What did you say?" Shingo panicked, staring unbelievingly at the animal.
"It's going after the boat!" Koinu noticed, immediately making all of us break into a series of yells and calls to our teammates.
Shingo then ran over to the right wing of the shuttle, climbing all the way to the top like Sharla had done a few minutes ago. He took off his jacket and made signals to catch the attention of Menori and Howard. My heart started beating faster in fear while I screamed with everyone else, doing my best to ignore the burning pain the effort had caused in my throat and lungs. By my side, Kaoru was keeping an eye on the animal, watching helplessly as it came nearer and nearer to our rowboat and friends.
It was just then that Howard and Menori were able to stop the boat after coming out of a strong wave current, finally being able to hear all of our yells. Shingo, taking the opportunity when both teammates turned to see us, motioned downwards desperately, moving his jacket to emphasize.
"Howard! Below you! Below!" Shingo screamed with all his strength, being able to get his message over to our friends.
We all stood still as we watched our friends peek through the edges of the boat, catching sight of the long shadow sneaking down below them. I watched in frustration as the boat was then hit by the animal, sending our friends tumbling down on it. What came next though was not expected by anyone of us.
A huge water pillar rose up from the ocean right in front of the boat making us all gasp, or in my case choke. The water started cascading down from the column, revealing a gigantic brown snake with a yellow belly. Its bright yellow eyes were bulging out the side of its flat face, displaying the large and thin pupil only reptiles were said to have. The moment it opened its mouth to hiss dangerously, it revealed at least five rows of pointy teeth coming out of all his mouth and probably its throat too, a long red forked tongue sneaking out to smell its newfound food.
The ones standing here on the shuttle could do nothing but stare in mild horror at the newly introduced animal, too terrified to even speak. I could feel my whole body shaking uncontrollably as I stared at the scene, my heart's beating rising to an unbelievable speed in fear for my friends making me realize my body would not be able to support this much stress.
Suddenly…out from the middle of the ocean…a high-pitched scream ripped our ears and hearts.